Advertisement

Compulsory Care

  • Richard Bentall
Chapter

Abstract

In recent years it has been a matter of some concern to psychiatrists and others in the West that political dissidents in the Soviet Union have been diagnosed as mentally ill and have been involuntarily confined to psychiatric hospitals for treatment. It has thus been argued that Soviet psychiatrists have been guilty of the misuse of their psychiatric powers for political ends, usually on the grounds that the dissidents confined to hospital are in fact mentally well. In this paper it is shown that Western commentators cannot be complacent about their ability to defend this position because: (a) the concept of mental illness is unclear; (b) even so far as the concept of mental illness can be made clear it may be difficult to determine whether particular individuals — either in the West or the East — are mentally ill or mentally well; (c) in any case, illness qua illness cannot be a justification for compulsory treatment. It is suggested that there may be grounds for the compulsory treatment of individuals who lack rational autonomy, so long as rational autonomy is defined in a particular way. However, it is unlikely that this concept can be used to distinguish between the practices of Soviet and Western psychiatrists because many patients diagnosed as severely mentally ill may be able to demonstrate rational autonomy.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 5.
    T. Szasz, The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct ( New York: Hoeber-Harper, 1961 ).Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    T. Scheff, Being Mentally Ill: A Sociological Theory ( Chicago: Aldine, 1966 ).Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    See J. K. Wing Reasoning About Madness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    See N. C. Andreasen, The Broken Brain ( New York: Harper and Row, 1984 ).Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    R. D. Laing, The Divided Self ( London: Tavistock, 1962 )Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    R. D. Laing and A. Eesterson, Sanity, Madness and the Family ( Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970 ).Google Scholar
  7. 21.
    See R. B. Edwards, ‘Mental health as rational autonomy’, International Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1961) vol. 6, pp. 309–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 22.
    J. Radden, Madness and Reason ( London: George Allen and Unwin, 1985 ).Google Scholar
  9. 27.
    D. Davidson, Essays on Actions and Events ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980 ).Google Scholar
  10. 28.
    J. Elster, Sour Grapes: Studies on the Subversion of Rationality ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983 ).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 38.
    M. J. Mahoney, Cognition and Behaviour Modification ( New York: Ballinger, 1974 ).Google Scholar
  12. 40.
    C. B. Alloy and L. Y. Abramson, ‘Judgement of contingency in depressed and non-depressed students: Sadder but wiser’, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, (1979) vol. 108, pp. 441–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 41.
    See T. Szasz, ‘The ethics of suicide’, The Antioch Review (1971) vol. 31, pp. 7–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 42.
    See R. D. Hare and D. Schalling (eds), Psychopathic Behaviour Approaches to Research ( New York: Wiley, 1978 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Bentall

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations